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Retaining Wall with Synthetic Sheet Piling system and construction of pavements using geogrids and EPS Geofoam in the Cartagena to Barranquilla Highway, Colombia

The present project is part of the Cartagena – Barranquilla road corridor, managed until that moment by the Cartagena Barranquilla S.A.S Coastal Concession, on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in northern Colombia. This ambitious, fourth-generation project includes a large viaduct with 5.5 km in length, which seeks to reduce travel time between Cartagena and Barranquilla to 20 minutes, through the extension of the existing road to two lanes.
The Colombian government placed a series of restrictions on the use of construction technologies, seeking a minimum alteration to the local mangrove ecosystem, for that reason, for the conformation of the embankments over soft soils needed to achieve the final levels of the new road, was decided to use the technology of sheet piles, which offer structural support with simple construction processes and with minimum actions, however, the sheet pile system selected was the ULTRACOMPOSITE® fiber reinforced polymer sheet piling, above the conventional steel sheet piles, for the purpose of ensuring the properties of resistance throughout the life of the project, despite its constant exposure to the marine environment and not presenting any problem of corrosion or chemical and / or biological degradation.
In addition, the area of mangroves that crosses the project is characterized by very soft and saturated soils, made up of clays and silts with high compressibility potential. For this reason, with the proposal to reduce the possible differential settlement along the containment project, as well as reduce the thrust against the walls of the synthetic sheet piles, lightened padding technology is used in the back of the synthetic sheet piles. This lightened filler consisted of expanded polystyrene blocks (EPS), supported directly on a multi-directional polypropylene geogrid type TRIAX®.
Finally, the wall with synthetic sheet piles was designed as a structure anchored in its upper part, making it possible to reduce the placing depth, limiting their total length to a maximum of 11.38 m. This completes a proposal that was the best technical and economic solution analyzed by the consortium, fully aligned with the interest of the Colombian government in protecting the local ecosystem